Alma Lee Marge Compton
(September 4, 1923 - December 4, 2020)
Born at home on September 4, 1923, Alma Lee "Marge" Compton was the daughter of Annie H. Covert (deceased) and James H. Covert (deceased). Marge's family consisted of four children, all of whom have preceded her in death. Roland Covert, J.C. Covert, and Julia Kithes. Surviving immediate family members are her son and his wife, Russell and Tina Compton, two granddaughters and their husbands Megan and Chris Wood, Haley and Jay McMillan, and two great grandchildren, Ellie Wood and James Wood.
Marge's life began on the family farm in Bear Creek. As a loving mother, Miss Annie cooked water gravy and biscuits to sustain the family. From the time she was 12, Marge realized, in the middle of the Great Depression that if she did not leave home and find a job, she would probably never make it through the next few years. Somehow this 12 year old child saved enough money to buy a bus ticket to take her to meet her sister, Julia, in Washington, DC. At 12 years old, she began a lifestyle that would mold her character and future forever. Marge's work ethic was strong. To show her determination to succeed, she bused tables, washed dishes, prepped the service stations and did whatever was necessary to help make herself a valuable employee so she could help pay the rent where she lived with Julia. As time moved on, she became more attentive to the skills, and social graces her sister displayed as she worked in the restaurant business. Determined not to fail and move back home, she soon became a waitress.
In due time, Marge grew into the perfect waitress in the Officer's Club and wore only her crisp white cotton skirt and blouse, spotless white pumps and her immaculate white cotton gloves signifying that she was a trusted server who would never dip into the sauce bowl and then lick her finger. Her pristine appearance always passed the strictest inspection before her shift began.
In 1950, she met a charming Marine, Harold Russell (Ace) Compton (deceased) and fell in love with his sincere heart and dedication to her happiness. The happy couple became man and wife January 3, 1951. Before dawn the next morning he discreetly disappeared. Alone again, she realized that a military wife she was not always informed where the government had sent her husband on his many missions. This became a normal routine of life for Marge and her independence grew stronger daily as she served the life of a military wife during the Korean Conflict. As a dedicated military wife, Marge followed Ace wherever she could. Under orders by the government, the couple moved to California where they had two children Russell and Jecola (deceased). While they were in California, an unusual case of chicken pox took their daughter, Jecola, from her family. Russell and Marge moved to Winston-Salem in 1961 where she had some Greek friends who owned a Winston-Salem iconic restaurant, The Towne Steak House, and knew of her high quality work ethic. After his retirement from the military, Ace maintained the family's home place until he passed in September of 1988.
During Ace's illness, Marge stayed in Siler City where she became "The Queen of the Dry Dock" which opened in 1983. Her previous employers shared examples of her solid work practices. The boys (owners) showed up and asked her to be in charge of the front end operation of the brand new restaurant. Her tasks would include scheduling the waitresses, hiring and firing them according to her standards. As a beginning employee of The Dry Dock, no one knew what to expect, but they soon learned of Marge's meticulous attention to detail and how she kept the restaurant running smoothly for many years. Inasmuch as she knew everyone in the community, she could draw a crowd, neighbors, friends, relatives, as well as her brothers and sisters from two church congregations.
Soon, customers were coming from nearby cities and towns to eat at the best seafood restaurant in Chatham County. There were many nights when there was standing room only with a long wait list to get a seat. Always, but always, present to meet everyone at the front door was their Commander and Chief, Marge Compton. She truly felt the doors could not open without her. Loyalty to her job shown in her every action.
After 30 years, she finally passed on the baton to another person, but soon returned to a part time position on the busiest nights; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. From the time she began working at the Dry Dock, the employees had become her family. Still working in her 90s, she was always safely escorted to her car, and given two or three days of food so she wouldn't have to cook at home. The people she worked with treated her with the utmost respect and kindness.
Back on the home front, there are many memories of at least 40 Christmases where her patio tables (multiple tables) stood covered in 30 or more platters of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for the neighbors, elderly friends, and shut ins. On another grouping of tables were fruit baskets prepped and tied up with paper and bows for different groups of friends. There was no way anyone Marge Compton knew would go hungry at Christmas. At the beginning of each meal, Marge always told us, "Take out and eat. This is only poor folks rations." On each of these holidays, the family members would come in and 20-30 of us would gather at the tables where Marge had prepared everyone's favorite choice for a magnificent holiday feast. Finally, after at least an hour of eating, because no was brave enough to offend our hostess and not eat at least a serving of everything on the table, we washed the dishes, and put them away. At long last Marge granted us permission to move to the living room where you had to carefully step over hundreds of boxes of gifts for everyone there and a multitude of friends in the community.
Marge may have thought she was serving "Poor folks rations," but to those who dined at her table, we felt blessed with her royal feast. Feeding her friends either at home or at the Dry Dock was Marge's true expression of love. As a child, food was scarce and valuable to her. She or her friends and family would never go hungry again if she had anything to do with it.
The family wants to extend their sincere thanks to ALL OF YOU who checked in on her over the years, brought her fresh vegetables from your gardens, and were so gracious and kind to the "Dry Dock Queen." There was no way she could have stayed in her beloved home and worked with her friends without the love and care she received from all of you. As "The Queen of Dry Dock," Marge felt blessed. As her family, we hope you feel the love and affection Marge and all of us have for you by sharing a part of her life.
Her graveside service will be held at Meroney United Methodist Church, 10568 NC Hwy 902, Bear Creek, NC 27207 at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. Due to COVID-19, everyone is asked to wear a mask.
Following in her strong belief to feed others, we ask that in lieu of flowers, that you bring canned food to the graveside service or make a donation to West Chatham Food Pantry, P.O. Box 254, Siler City, NC 27344.